As I continue to read the story of Joseph and his brothers, I can’t help but realize that I need to be careful how I treat those around me, family as well as those I call my neighbors. They may, one day, be the very one to have control over my care, and my actions may determine the level of care I get. Joseph forgave his brothers and offered to them the best of care. But, what if on the day he saw them, he decided to toss them into a cistern. No one would question whether or not they deserved it or not. I am sure that there would have been those standing around to help him to do it. Of course, Joseph had told the story over and over, or did he?
They say time heals all wounds. And it seemed that that is what happened in this case. Jacob wanted to see those people his was the closest with, in blood, and in life. Joseph wanted to see his father! So, kindness was the way to get to the end result he wanted. Joseph had been busy with storing grain for the drought, to busy to stew in what was. But what is, is that, his brothers have left, with all the provisions they would need to bring his father back to Egypt.
Joseph provided them with wagons, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he gave them supplies for the journey. And he gave each of them new clothes—but to Benjamin he gave five changes of clothes and 300 pieces of silver. He also sent his father ten male donkeys loaded with the finest products of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other supplies he would need on his journey. (Genesis 45:21b-45:23 NLT)
Relationships are shining forth in these chapters. Joseph had a good relationship with Pharoah, so he blessed Joseph with more than he deserved. Joseph had a good relationship with his father, so he blessed his brothers more than they deserved. God also has relationships with all the above, and he blessed them more than they deserved. Pharoah told Joseph to give them so much provision, that it won’t matter what they have to leave behind, for they will never miss it. Can you imagine walking out of your house and leaving your stuff behind because there was no room on the wagon? I don’t know how it was back them, but you get used to your stuff! But God had more in store for them. God had intentions of making Israel into a great nation.
When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive. (Genesis 46:29b NLT)
No one was caring about their stuff, it was the people that mattered. It mattered then, and they still matter now. It always ends up being more about your relationships than your stuff. The people matter so much that God kept counting them over and over.
The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt, not counting his son’s wives, was sixty-six. In addition, Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt. So altogether, there were seventy members of Jacob’s family in the land of Egypt. (Genesis 46:26-27 NLT)
Not everything seems fair in this story. The Egyptians gave up their money, livestock, cattle, land and even sold themselves into slavery to get the food they needed to live. But…
Meanwhile, the people of Israel settled in the region of Goshen in Egypt. There they acquired property, and they were fruitful and their population grew rapidly. (Genesis 47: 27 NLT)
It wasn’t that God didn’t like the people of Egypt, for He did provide for them as well. Joseph let them live on their land and produce crops with the stipulation they would give 20% of the proceeds to Pharaoh. But the truth is, that God made a promise to Israel. He promised that they would become a great nation and multiply as much as the sand and the stars. God treated Israel differently that everyone else, but that doesn’t mean He forgets all else. I am a Gentile, not an Israelite, but I still feel that I am blessed, taken care of, and loved by God. God does not treat us all the same, but if we are His heir, somehow, He makes each one of us feel like we are His favorite. I can’t figure out how He does it, I just know He does!
Father God, you are a wonder. You love the saved as well as the unsaved, the Gentile as well as the Israelite, but you treat each one of us individually, on our level. You show us the same forgiveness that Joseph showed his brother, unworthy of any, but given just the same. You bless us way more than we deserve. You love us way more than we could ever love you back. It is such a lopsided relationship, but one that you desire anyway. Thank you for loving us in this way. It is so undeserving, yet so appreciated. You are more than I could ever comprehend, STILL I love you even in times where all I can do is trust in you! Thanks for loving me back! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!